An Evening IP (Indigenous peoples) Sharing
To Celebrate the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
On August 9, 2023
By Ric Cuyob
An Evening with the CBCP’s ECIP (Episcopal Commission on Indigenous Peoples)
On August 11, 2023, the Cordillera Community in Belgium (Cordi-Bel), the Catholic Bishops Conference Of The Philippines’ Episcopal Commission on Indigenous Peoples (CBCP-ECIP) representatives to the World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon, the Filipino Chaplain in Brussels Father Carmelo Horlador and guests got the chance for an informal meeting, chatting, camaraderie and sharing of foods and laughter in one of the Cordi-Bel members’ place in the Ixelles Commune.
How This Encounter Happened
Bearing in mind a long-time connection, Father Earl Antoine Cura, cicm, who currently heads the education section of the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Indigenous Peoples contacted Ric Cuyob in Brussels in the early month of July requesting to arrange for a possible informal meeting between the Cordi-Bel and the IP representatives of the CBCP’s ECIP after the World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon, when they will pass by in Brussels, Belgium on their way back home to the Philippines. The request was warmly welcomed and so it shall be done.
As Indigenous, it is our customary practice in every gathering to always make sure to have food on the table to partake and enjoy regardless of the occasion whether big or small, formal or informal. After the “stomach progress,” we tried hard to beat our gongs and performed some of our dances. And clearly enough, we obviously need more practice and the spirituality of doing it. So, we moved on to the sharing of aspirations, views, and inspirations. It was a lively sharing despite the short electrical brown out and drizzles that mingled. Though we cannot give a detailed account of the content of the sharing, it was about dreams, successes, and difficulties that the IP’s in the diaspora repetitively wrestle with as shared by the Cordi-Bel. On the other hand, the CBCP’s ECIP delegates shared about the commission’s mission for the Indigenous peoples. Furthermore, the two bishops took turns in sharing their thoughts and inspirational message, followed by the IP delegates, the Priest who were part of the delegates, the guests and the executive secretary of the commission who gave a lengthy sharing due to his extensive knowledge about the issues and concerns of the IPs (Indigenous peoples) in the Philippines. For memory’s sake, the topics mentioned or touched during the sharing were IP migration experiences; protection/preservation of the IP’s knowledge, systems and practices; IPs struggles for self-governance or autonomy; the commission’s initiation of apostolate to the IPs; schooling or learning methods by the IP themselves particularly the Aytas; IPs representations in the local unit of the government; personal involvements with and observations on the lives of IPs in other countries; etc.
Though it was obvious that we needed more clarifications to be able to grasp deeper the essence of the different exchanges of inputs and views as we were not so informed of the many topics on IPs, the sharing was very lively, informative, and interesting.
As IPs in diaspora, it is our hope and prayer that the God of our ancestors may continue to touch the minds and hearts of the people in this CBCP’s ECIP to remain resolute and firm in their mission of promoting the rights and interests of the Indigenous peoples. May they be the IPs “Mandatory” Representatives (IPMR) in the church, the academe and other social institutions always speaking in behalf and on the side of the Indigenous peoples. Besides, may the Spirits of the IP ancestors guide them to be resilient and mutually open as they do their apostolate in the communities of the Indigenous peoples.
On our part as IPs in diaspora, may we continue to hold on to our Indigenous values, systems and practices that are viable and beneficial to ourselves, to the environment wherever we are and the people around whom we are living with. So that, together, we may find harmony and peace. It is also our hope and prayer that the God of our ancestors may continue to guide us not to lose our focus of living and passing on to the next generations our values and identity although they were born and are being raised in a different social milieu.
The Closing Prayer done in the Ayta Style
The closing prayer of the evening was given in the Ayta manner by Mr. Lito Jugatan aka Tubag.
(Note: Though Tubag pronounced the closing prayer in his own language, below is a translation that summarizes what he uttered.)
“Apo Namalyari, bigyan mo sana kami ng kapayapaan, maging ang Bahay (komunidad na ito) na tumanggap sa amin.
Apo Namalyari, biyayahan mo lagi sana kami ng kasaganahan at ang kapwa naming katutubo maski sa ibang dako ng mundo. Patuloy mo sana kaming gabayan na maisabuhay at maibahagi ang kagandahan ng aming kultura. Para sa aming pag uwi ay gabayan mo sana kami. Sana’y maging mapayapa ang aming paglalakbay. Hiling namin na ikaw na rin po, Apo Namalyari, ang tagapagsubaybay sa aming mga pamilya sa kanilang kinaroroonan. Salamat,
The IP evening sharing was fruitful because of the following:
The Cordillera community in Belgium want to thank the IP representatives to the world youth day 2023 of the CBCP’s ECIP:
Bp Val Dimoc - Chairperson of the CBCP’s ECIP and the bishop of Bontoc - Lagawe
Bp Ver Caermare - vice-chairperson of the CPBC’s ECIP and the bishop of Dipolog
Fr Jong Sabuga - Cagayan de Oro
Fr Earl Cura, cicm - Manila
Mr Tony Abuso - Manila (Executive Secretary of the CBCP’s ECIP)
Arcilyn Bandas - Kankanaey (Benguet)
Jonalyn Camanso - Magahat Bukidnon (Negros Occ)
Lito Jugatan - Ayta (Zambales)
Jose Paje - Higaonon (Misamis Oriental)
Alyssa De Ocampo - Manila (ECIP Volunteer)
Karla Martinez (ECIP Associate)
Mark Martinez (ECIP Associate)
We thank the chaplain of the Filipino Community in Brussels Fr. Carmelo Horlador, msp, with his colleague priest Father Jet Norella, msp, who is on visit in Brussels but presently studying in Rome.
We also want to thank Gelai Marilla, who hails from Bicol and is currently doing her PhD in Anthropology at the University of Brussels (ULB) and willing to be involved in Cordi-Bel with her Belgian husband.
We also appreciate and are thankful for the fellow Igorot families and friends from Paris who were on a visit in Brussels but stayed with us the whole evening to exchange chat and camaraderie with everyone.
Finally, we thank Gelai Marilla and Ellen Godio for the photos they took during the evening; and Marie Cuyob for the video.
(14 August 2023)